I was asked (very tongue in cheek) the other day what I predicted would emerge as the new Church super tool after the Community Garden phase had run its course.
First there was the Church Fete (or “Bring and Buy”) and then the more permanent Op-Shop (which as well as helping “the poor” had the added bonus of being a great revenue raiser) then the Youth Group and more recently we have added Cafés to our repetour … But if you really want to be in with the cool kids in 2013 there is one program you must not be without: A Community Garden!
The encouragement of using a strength based approach to community engagement/development is that instead of asking:
“What program might we start next?”
“What program are successful Church X doing?”
An asset based approach to community development asks:
“Who is in our community and what do they bring to the table?”
While there may be similarities between communities in Australia we will each, effectively be engaging with unique collectives of people and so what should emerge (if we are doing this well) is creative, unique and imaginative ways forward that look far less programmatic; less set-in-stone and more evolutionary/responsive.
In the same way as after the first Apple iPhone launched all other phones morphed to copy the design of this innovative and formerly unique design; we too are often very tempted to try to ride the coat-tails of other successes of other communities and Churches.
But what if we didn’t? What if we threw out the manual and tried something that no-one else had done before? Perhaps we would fail… Probably 8 times out of 10 we would (it’s called prototyping) …but if we tried something that no-one else had done before we might also discover a way forward that no-one else had ever discovered, a new path, a new adventure…
…let us be adventurous!
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If you have any really creative stories of when a community has taken a risk and tried something fresh and untested please hit me up in he comment box below